Candidate profile: Phil Goodwin

Phil Goodwin
Phil Goodwin

Name: Phil Goodwin

Age: 83

Family: His wife, Johnnie Lynn, have five children, two grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Town: O’Fallon

Office Seeking: O’Fallon mayor

Occupation: Owner of Phil Goodwin and Associates Insurance Company and retired U.S. Air Force Colonel veteran.

Previous Offices: O’Fallon City Clerk for the past 16 years - 4 terms.

Why I am running: As mayor, I pledge to keep the fire burning on the torch of progress in our city. In the city’s 2015 citizen survey, 96 percent of O’Fallon residents stated O’Fallon is a great place to live and 97 percent said it is a safe place to raise a family and run a business. As your next mayor, I pledge to keep the high standards of living our residents have come to expect of their city. I have outlined a strategy that asks less of our taxpayers, invests in our future, increases service opportunities and keeps O’Fallon as the no. 1 choice for business to build and grow. My opponent is anti-growth and wants to stop the progress the city has made. He has voted “no” over 80 percent of the time as an alderman on all new developments in our city. I am running to protect the residents and businesses investments in our city so that we do not go backwards.

What is the most important issues facing the city of O’Fallon? How would you approach it? The most important issue facing voters in O’Fallon is property tax relief. I have outlined a detailed plan that will save O’Fallon homeowners 18 percent off their city tax levy. Our city is on the move. Private investment in our city is at an all time high with the new Menard’s, and Academy Sports helping to lead our increase in sales tax revenue. Since 2013, the city’s sales tax revenue has been increased by 10.05 percent from $6.91 million to $7.63 million in 2016. Based on the current trend, the city is on pace to generate an additional 3.75-4 percent ach year – growing another 12-16 percent by 2021. This growth has afforded our city finance management team to meet our city’s needs while maintaining the highest bond rating in the region with a AA plus rating and maintain a healthy reserve in order to meet the continued investment in our infrastructure. Now is the time to give back to our residents. My property tax relief plan would dedicate $1 million annually over the next four years from the city’s surplus reserves toward property tax relief in addition to dedicating 20 percent of all new sales tax revenue toward property tax relief each year. This plan returns money back to the homeowners and still keeps a healthy reserve for our city to remain in strong financial condition. According to the City’s Financial Tax statement published on the city’s website, the 2016 tax levy is approximately $5.7 million. Should the city council pass the Goodwin Tax Relief Plan, the levy would be reduced by 18.2 percent to $4.6 million. This would reduce the tax levy on a $200,000 home from $590 a year to $482 in the first year. I am the only candidate who believes we can continue to grow our city and provide relief to the residents of O’Fallon. My opponent on the other hand is busy voting against growth and blocking expansion of existing businesses that generate sales tax revenue. We have to keep working to attract and expand retail businesses in O’Fallon so that we can grow our sales tax base to become less reliant on property tax revenue. As Mayor, I will make sure we do that so that all residents will benefit.

If you were writing a job description for the position you’re seeking, what would it say? The job description for mayor is simple. You must be a leader. A leader sets direction and builds a vision for where the city will go. And then guides the city to reach it’s full potential. A mayor must be able to map out where a city needs to move in order to win for every resident and business. The mayor sets direction and then builds confidence to get things accomplished. As mayor you must also be a great manager of people and build a team of professionals to help manage the city and its growth. A mayor must be fiscally responsible as you are managing the tax funds of residents. The money should not be used for personal gain - but rather to help improve the community so everyone benefits. A mayor must be able a great communicator and be able to listen to both sides of an argument and then make a decision that is in the best interest of the whole city. As mayor, I would bring my leadership experience as a colonel in the Air Force, where I flew over 125 combat missions successfully to the job. I would bring my experience as a business owner that understands what it takes to run and grow a business to the job. I would also bring my leadership experience as the city clerk for the last 16 years to the job. I understand what it takes to lead a city like O’Fallon into the future.

How would you keep costs down or reduce costs in your municipality? The fiscal management of your tax dollars will be the core focus of my administration as mayor. O’Fallon currently boasts an AA+ Rating from Standard and Poors. The city has earned this high rating for the responsible fiscal management of our city’s $68 million annual budget. As mayor I will implement the “fiscal responsibility litmus test” on every expenditure proposed by the city. If the expenditure will hurt our credit rating – it will be not see the light of day. I will also limit borrowing and reduce city’s debt. Every family knows there are times when you need to make an investment to maintain the proper running and value of your home like replacing a roof or heating/cooling system, remodeling a kitchen or expanding with a room addition. Like you, the city of O’Fallon has made smart investments to improve our infrastructure as the city has grown. Those improvements included the construction of three new water towers to keep the quality of our water delivery system at peak performance, the construction of our state of the art Public Safety and Police department on Seven Hills Road, the new fire station on Venita Drive, the Family Sports park and more. Each of these projects were studied, scoped and built using conservative fiscal funding with dedicated funding streams to pay off the bonds used to build these much needed infrastructure improvements. As mayor, I pledge to continue to pay down the city’s debt and limit any additional borrowing so that the fiscal state of our city remains strong and the rating agencies continue to recognize O’Fallon for its conservative debt to asset ratio.

In St. Clair County, there will be votes on two sales tax referendums. Do you support either or both? Why or why not? High quality schools and public safety are the two main reasons families move to O’Fallon. 97 percent of O’Fallon residents believe it is a safe and secure city. 96 percent believe that our city is a great place to raise a family and cite our schools as being a big reason for O’Fallon being such a great place to live. Providing property tax relief to the citizens of O’Fallon has been a core part of my campaign for Mayor. I believe we rely too heavily on property taxes to fund services. I have proposed dedicating a portion of the sales tax revenue the City of O’Fallon collects to fund property tax relief to our homeowners. Because our sales tax base is growing every year by up to 4 percent annually with the increase in new businesses locating to O’Fallon, I believe that we can use those increases to offset property tax increases. The State of Illinois has not held up to their financial obligation to fund both our schools and provide the proper funding to local municipalities. I understand the need to find other resources that do not place a burden on our property tax payers which is why schools and public safety departments are asking voters to consider these referendums.

Why should people vote for me? The people of O’Fallon should vote for me because I am the only candidate that has a proven track record of leadership and growth. As a Colonel in the Air Force, I led the men and women under my command to be the best they could be. I was honored to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 11 Oak Leaf Clusters for my work after having flown over 125 combat missions. I have served as the city clerk in O’Fallon for the past 16 years providing the citizens of O’Fallon open access to their government. As a small business owner, I understand what it takes to run a business and will make our City attractive to new businesses. As a community volunteer in Rotary, mentoring, and my church, I know that we need everyone working together to make our city great. I am the only candidate with a nine point plan to lead our city into the future that can be fully read at goodwinformayor.com. The plan is designed to keep O’Fallon moving forward and keep politics out of policy decisions. It provides for property tax relief which will reduce O’Fallon property taxes by 18 percent. I believe money should be kept in your wallet, not the city’s bank account, herefore, I will return the city’s $3 million surplus in our water department to the rate payers by reducing their water rates. I will work to maintain and protect home values in O’Fallon so that our resident’s largest investment grows and does not decline as it has in surrounding communities. I will support our schools and work to recruit a university or college to O’Fallon. I will maintain the safe and secure community by continuing to invest in our police force. I will make sure that our infrastructure is keeps pace with our growth by repaving our city streets, addressing storm water drainage issues, and addressing traffic congestion. I will continue to invest in our youth and families by completing our Sports Park to attract new economic growth and provide a training ground for tomorrow’s athletes and leaders. I will also work to increase the involvement of our young people and young families in our city. We need to increase participation in city government and civic organizations so that we keep our city vibrant.